Dolls have feet, so if you make, play or dress dolls, you will need doll shoes. You can sew simple slip-on shoes that are a bit like socks but at some point you may want to make leather shoes to fit your doll. This can be an interesting craft project because it exposes some of the mysteries of how any kind of shoe is made from doll size to human size. It will also allow you to dress your doll in exactly the shape and style of shoe that you want.
Place the bottom of the doll's foot against a piece of paper so that the paper conforms to the shape of the foot. Some dolls, like Barbie dolls, have arched fee, so you need to include the arch. Trace around the outside of the foot with a pencil.
Go over your outline to reshape the toe of the shoe to give it the shape of the type of shoe you are creating. Some shoes have pointed toes, some are rounded and some are blunt. Open-toed shoes will still have a shape to the sole. If both of the feet are the same (called universal feet) you will only need one pattern. If each foot is different, make two patterns on paper and then flip one over. Label which pattern is for which foot.
Cut one piece each of an inner and outer sole for each foot. The outer sole should be a brown or black leather. The inner sole should be a thin white or beige leather. Use leather shears for cutting leather.
Cut one piece of copper sheet for each sole with metal shears. The copper should be 1/16-inch smaller than the leather soles. Your copper should be thin enough to bend into shape and thick enough to hold your shape.
Press the copper sole against the bottom of the doll foot until it conforms to the arch of the foot. Glue the bottom leather piece to the bottom side of the copper, making sure not to bend the copper again. Repeat for both feet.
Place your upper sole with the face of the leather against the bottom of the doll foot. Use a rubber band to hold it in position. Look at your shoe reference photo (or real shoe). Cut thin leather to fit over the toe area. If your toe has a seam, you can cut and sew a seam or you can draw a seam with a marker. Place your leather toe over the foot of the doll and wrap it to the underside of the upper sole. Remove excess leather to allow enough leather to glue. Cut notches in the leather to help ease the shape. Glue the wrapped part of the leather shoe to the bottom of the sole. Repeat for both sides. Allow the glue to dry before taking the next step.
Cut and shape the back of the shoe the same way. If there is a seam at the back, create a real seam or simply draw a seam on with a marker. Wrap your leather under to the bottom of the upper sole. Trim the leather. Make notches and glue the leather in place. You may also need to glue the edge of the leather at each side to connect the front and back together. This depends on your shoe design. Repeat for both shoes.
Make sure you can slip your shoe on and off your doll foot. Make any adjustments to the design to allow you to make this possible if the shoe is too tight.
Shape modelling clay into the shape of your heels. Make the heel slightly smaller than you need so you can wrap them in leather later. Make both heels at the same time. Fit them to the bottom of the shoe form. Keep in mind that they will attach to the underside of the bottom leather sole (a smooth surface). Bake your heels in the oven for 20 minutes and allow them to cool before covering them with leather. Glue the leather to the heels.
Glue the bottom sole to the upper sole, making sure your rubber bands are removed. Glue the heel to the bottom sole. Do not remove the shoe until the glue has hardened completely. Paint, marker or add any details once the shoe shape is complete.
Small laces, beads for buttons and marks for stitching detail all add to the authenticity of the shoe.
Tips and warnings
- Small laces, beads for buttons and marks for stitching detail all add to the authenticity of the shoe.